Boldly Going

I get emotional over Star Trek.

When I was a kid, our fuzzy old TV could catch about six stations: the three networks, PBS, a local independent, and maybe a UHF channel or two. Although the local station ran blocks of monster/horror movies on the weekends, there wasn’t much else on the airwaves for a skinny nerd to call his own.

The glorious exception was reruns of Trek–The Original Series, which at the time was The Only Series. I devoured those episodes, watching them again and again. I cried every time Captain Kirk had to let Edith die in order to save the timeline, and cheered every time he beat the Gorn. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, and all the rest were a lifeline to me. No other fictional world before or since has had such a profound impact on my life, shaping my imagination and giving me an ideal to strive for.

When I was older I embraced the movies, TNG, DS9, and to a lesser extent the other shows. Though there was plenty of mediocre moments in those hundreds of hours of Trek, there were also some profoundly moving experiences. No matter how many times I’ve seen The Wrath of Khan, those scenes between Kirk and Spock leave me a blubbering mess. Shatner’s acting takes plenty of well-deserved knocks, but when he chokes on his words as he eulogizes Spock, I think it’s one of the most touching moments on film.

So when I heard plans to relaunch the franchise with a new cast taking on the classic roles of the original Trek, I was more than skeptical.

Happily, my fears were put to rest in the first five minutes of the film. It’s wonderful; go see it. It’s not just a great Trek film (possibly… possibly… the best of them all), it’s a great movie. I loved it.

If you need to hear more, there are some minor spoilers after the break.

So yeah, this is a relaunch of the franchise. Thankfully, it’s done in a way that honors continuity even as it renders it obsolete. (This is a good thing, by the way. The Trek franchise had way, way too much baggage to go forward the same way it had been. If they didn’t do a reboot like this, they would have needed to find another way to strip away excesses and focus on a new story.)

The scenes with Nimoy are spectacular. When he says the line to Kirk… you know the one… I nearly blubbered like a schoolboy.

The new cast is really good. Chris Pine nails all the important aspects of Kirk’s character without even coming close to parodying Shatner. Quinto is a great Spock, and made me forget all about Sylar. Karl Urban is perfect–PERFECT–as McCoy. And Simon Pegg is wonderful as Scotty, a role he completely makes his own.

I even liked the antagonist, Nero. He wasn’t some dastardly cosmic villain out to destroy the universe; he just wanted to inflict pain upon those he believed were responsible for his own.

Sure, it wasn’t a perfect film. You have to make a few leaps of plausibility similar to those needed in most action movies. But, importantly, you don’t have to turn a blind eye to blatant inconsistencies of character because there aren’t any. Our heroes act the way we want them to, and even though the timeline has been distorted they end up exactly where we want them to be.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I couldn’t be happier about this movie. Star Trek lives again, bringing with it the best of the original characters and all the adventure I fell in love with as a kid, updated for a new generation of moviegoers without compromising the important stuff. My hat’s off to J. J. Abrams for breathing new life into a franchise that had grown bloated and stale.

This cast is signed for two more films, and I can’t freaking wait to see them.

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